Parakeet vs Lovebird vs Parrotlet | What Is The Difference Between Them?

Parrots have been birds of fascination for all of us. They are also one of the most intelligent varieties of birds. There are roughly about 398 species of parrots in the world.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

We will explore three popular species of parrots –  parakeet, lovebird, and parrotlets.

Biological comparison:  

Family:

Did you know that they all belong to the parrot family? The graph below will give you a brief idea of how they are part of the parrot (Psittaciformes) family.

Budgie or Parakeet vs Lovebird Vs Parrotlet

Origin:

According to molecular research, Psittaciformes (Parrots) evolved approximately 50 million years ago in Gondwana, a supercontinent centered in Australasia.

Parrotlet, Parakeet, and Lovebird belong to the order Psittaciformes (Parrot). Psittaciformes have roughly about 398 species of parrots. 

The order Psittaciformes is subdivided into three superfamilies: Psittacoidea (“true” parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots).

Most species of parrots originate from tropical and subtropical regions of the world.  South America and Australasia have the greatest diversity.

On a simple note, Parrotlets, parakeets, and lovebirds are different varieties of parrots.

Parakeet vs Lovebird Vs Parrotlet – Comparisons:

Parrotlet

Parrotlet belongs to the family of Psittacidae and comes under the tribe of Arini. They are the smallest parrots in the world.

They are from Central and South America and Mexico.

Parrotlets are also referred to as South American lovebirds due to their similarity in size, shape, and behavior; however, they are not closely related.

There are 19 species of parrotlets of which two are commonly found in the pet market: the Pacific parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) and the green-rumped parrotlet (Forpus passerinus).

The Pacific parrotlet is the most popular variety among parrotlets. They are feisty little birds that can be territorial. Since they are not so noisy, they are great for pet parents living in apartments.

They can grow up to 11–14 centimeters (4.3–5.5 in) long and typically weighs 30 grams or more.

The Pacific parrotlets exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning that the biological sexes are visually distinguishable.

All parrotlet species are usually found in varying shades of green and some varieties, like the Pacific, come in a variety of colors like blue, yellow, brown, dark green, pastel, albino, white, etc.

Green-rumped parrotlet is the next popular variety. It is one of the least aggressive varieties of parrotlets. It is also a sexually dimorphic breed.

The green-rumped parrotlet is green in color with male birds having blue markings on their wings and some yellowing on their heads.

Parakeet

Budgies belong to the family of Psittaculidae, comes under the subfamily of Loriinae, and belong to Melopsittacini, one of the three tribes of Loriinae. They are commonly known as budgies.

Budgies are one of the smallest varieties of parrots found in Australia.

Parakeets grow up to 15- 20 cm in height (5.9-7.8 in) and weigh up to 30-40 grams.

The body of the wild parakeets is light green in color with black markings on the wings. The forehead and face are yellow in color. In captivity, breeders have worked to produce a variety of colors including blue, grey, grey-green, violet, white, yellow-blue, etc.

Budgerigars display sexual dimorphism once they reach adulthood. Males and females can be differentiated through the cere, a waxy structure, at the base of the nose.

Lovebirds

Lovebirds belong to the family of Psittaculidae under the subfamily of Agapornithinae and genus Agapornis.

There are nine species of lovebirds.  They are native to the African continent.

Lovebirds are known for being monogamous and for the long periods which the paired birds spend sitting together.

Lovebirds grow up to 13 to 17 cm (5 to 7 in) in length and weigh 40 to 60 grams.

Wild lovebirds are usually green with various colors on their upper body, depending on the species. Just like the other breeders have produced varieties of lovebirds in different colors through selective breeding.

Which is smarter: Lovebird Vs Budgie vs Parrotlet

Lovebird

Research has suggested that lovebirds have the intelligence of a 3-5-year-old child. Lovebirds are intelligent birds with complex relationships and needs. They need mental stimulation to prevent getting bored. Lovebirds are not known for their ability to mimic speech or sounds. 

Parakeet

Budgerigars are very intelligent birds and hence easily bored. Budgies are the first non-mammal species that showed an understanding of the human language. Puck, a male parakeet holds the world record for the largest vocabulary of any bird at 1728 words.

Parrotlet

Parrotlets can also speak but not to the level of lovebirds or budgies. Green-Rumped Parrotlets name their young according to some studies.  According to some studies, spectacled parrotlets performed better than a lot of other intelligent parrot varieties in complicated tests.

Lovebirds, budgies, and parrotlets are very intelligent birds and need special care to prevent them from getting bored.

Adaptations, Survival, Environment, and Climatic condition

Budgerigar

Budgerigars are found throughout the dryer parts of Australia where they have survived the harsh conditions for over five million years. 

Parakeets are opportunistic breeders. They readily breed when the conditions are conducive to the ready availability of food and water.

Parrotlet

Parrotlets are also seed foraging birds with opportunistic feeding of fruits, leaves, buds, and maybe an occasional insect.

Lovebirds

Lovebirds are seed foraging birds with opportunistic feeding of fruits, leaves, buds, and maybe the occasional insect.

Temperament

Budgerigar

Budgerigars are the third most popular pet in the world after dogs and cats.  Budgies are docile, gentle, and easy to handle. They are very easy to tame if acquired young.

Lovebird

Lovebirds are very social birds. They are curious, playful, active, and can be feisty if they are not tamed from a young age.

Parrotlet

Parrotlets are known for their feistiness. It can get into fights with birds and animals much bigger than its own size.

These birds need plenty of socialization and regular interaction. Even bonded pairs are known to harm their mate. Parrotlets are not easy to breed in captivity.

Food Habits |  What do they eat?

Seeds are the most important aspect for these birds in the wild.  Parakeets, lovebirds, and budgerigars have access to a wide variety of seeds in the wild.  They also eat a variety of fruits, leaves, and buds.  They also may opportunistically eat insects and larvae as well.

For our birds at home, our aim should be to provide a diet as close as possible to what they eat in the wild. Seeds should constitute a part of the bird’s everyday diet.

Some of the seeds that are available in the market for lovebirds are yellow millet, white millet, canary seed, peeled oats, paddy rice, Japanese millet, sunflower, safflower, buckwheat, oats, hemp seed, linseed, etc.  These can be mixed and given to the bird to satisfy its nutrient needs.  

A wide variety of seeds in the diet will ensure that the bird gets different kinds of nutrients and micronutrients from its food.

A pellet-based feed will work for them too.

Birds should also have access to fruits, vegetables, and leaves.  These are required for the nutrient and micronutrient needs of the birds.  This should constitute between 10%-25% of their diet.  

A diet that is focused just on fruits, vegetables, and leaves could lead to nutrient deficiency, bloating, and diarrhea in birds.

Some seeds like safflower and sunflower have high-fat content in them.  A high portion of these could lead to the birds getting fat in their body as they do not get sufficient exercise compared to their counterparts in the wild.  Limit these kinds of seeds in the birds’ diet.  

Sprouting the seeds is another way to remove the fat from the seeds as the growing plant uses its fat content when it sprouts.  This also ensures it has more proteins.

Do speak with your veterinarian to get more ideas about the dietary requirements specific to the breed.

Reproduction and Breeding

Parrotlet

Parrotlets are devoted and faithful to their partners. They frequently preen at each other and always follow around.

A female lay 5-10 eggs. Parrotlet mothers spend the majority of their time in the nest. Males feed the females during the entire period.

Parakeet

Budgerigars are easy to breed. It is an ideal breed for beginners.

Budgerigars show signs of affection by preening or feeding their flockmates. Budgies feed one another by regurgitating the food into their flockmate’s mouths.

In the wild just like the other parrot species parakeets require a hollow tree or hollow log as a nest. Budgerigars readily breed in captivity due to this natural behavior.

A female can lay 4-8 eggs. It takes 21 days to hatch the eggs.

The female budgie is almost exclusively fed by the male partner during this period. Females only leave nests for a very short period during this time.

Lovebird

Lovebirds mate for life.  They spend long periods sitting together, feeding each other and preening.

In the wild, some species of lovebirds carry nesting materials under their feathers and some in their beak. Mating stars once they start constructing their test. Putting some nesting materials in the cage encourages breeding.

Females lay eggs in another 3-5 days and they lay up to 4-6 eggs. It takes about 18-24 with a little bit of variation by a couple of days for each direction to hatch.

It is difficult to determine the sex of a lovebird. It may show signs like ripping up paper and stuffing into its feathers which is a female behavior or regurgitating food for its owners which is a male behavior but these are not reliable indicators. DNA testing is the only sure method.

Which is better? Budgie or Lovebird or Parrotlet

It depends on how much time you can spend with them.  The place you live can also affect the choice of birds.  Another factor is compatibility with other birds.

Parakeets do not make much noise. This makes them an ideal bird that can be kept in an apartment

Budgies are excellent birds to start with. They are cheaper compared to lovebirds and parrotlets and need less care compared to them. They are easier to breed compared to lovebirds and parakeets. It is very difficult to identify the gender of a lovebird.

Parrotlets are feisty little birds that have trouble getting along with other birds and animals. So you will have to keep them separately.

Lovebirds are very social animals and need attention to prevent them from getting bored.

The better bird for you is an individual choice. Please go through their behavior, and dietary needs before finalizing the breed of your choice.

Owning any one of them as pets –

Advantages:

  1. They bond very closely with the owners.
  2. It takes less space when compared to a dog or a cat.
  3. It is easier to clean.
  4. They are comparatively cheaper to raise.

Disadvantages:

  1. They can be noisy.
  2. They can get sick easily if proper care is not ensured.
  3. You could get sick from your pet birds. Psittacosis is an infectious disease that can affect humans.

How much do Budgies, Lovebirds, and Parrotlets cost?

Budgies, lovebirds, and parrotlets are priced differently in different locations.  The pricing differs from state to state.

The birds you get from a pet shop are usually priced cheaper than the ones you get from a breeder.

If a particular breed or color is not easily available, it will be priced more and vice versa.  Good breeding stocks are also priced higher.

Below are the prices of the birds in the US market.

  • Lovebirds could cost anywhere between 25$ to 1500$ depending on whether you are getting them from a local pet shop or a breeder.
  • Budgies cost between 10$ to 35$.
  • Parakeets cost between 20$ to 1000$.

Do parrotlets get along with lovebirds and parakeets?

Parrotlets may not get along with lovebirds and parakeets. Parakeets are known for their feistiness. It can get into fights with birds and animals much bigger than its own size. 

These birds need plenty of socialization and regular interaction. Even bonded pairs are known to harm their mate.